Q&A with Eva Struble

Eva Struble's new exhibition Produce opened on Saturday, April 5.

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MCASD: Tell us about the conceptual and material evolution of Produce.

STRUBLE: I’ve been making work about the places I live for the last ten years. I moved to San Diego three years ago and started reading about the history of human movement in the area, migration, and labor, especially in relation to agriculture. I started making prints that integrate patterns and textiles from regions that people come from to work in Southern California. I was learning how to screen print on medium format-size paper and wanted to bring them into painting and collage on a larger scale, but also make the project more social. In the past my research always included reading a lot of books and physically going to places, whether it was environmentally degraded parts of my city, Baltimore, where I grew up, or Brooklyn, exploring strange backwater environmental histories there. This time I wanted to have a more human experience in San Diego.

MCASD: In what ways did you shape the experience to be a more human one?

STRUBLE: I started partnering with the California Rural Legal Assistance organization. They provide pro bono legal help for migrant workers here in North County. I also met with a number of their constituents and went to a lot of farms in North County to get firsthand stories about what it’s like to be producing the food we eat every day and that we’re all so disconnected from. So I brought those experiences into the work I’m making now.

MCASD: The landscapes that you’ve depicted are themselves lush and painterly, and you’ve added unexpected passages of silkscreened textile patterns. How did these elements make their way into the work?

STRUBLE: I love textiles of many types and I have folders and folders of images of textile patterns from around the world. I use them in different ways. In one piece I’m working on now, I’m thinking about a farm in Vista that buses in workers every year from Michoacán, Mexico. I’m using visual elements, in the form of textile patterns from that region, mixed with images of the farm, in the painting. In a way, I’m acknowledging the many histories that go into agriculture here, almost a way of giving credit within the story of our “grand story of bountiful produce” here. It also gives me the opportunity to process and learn patterns that I like by transforming and recreating them in a new context.

MCASD: Have you integrated such themes, visual motifs, and collaborations with organizations like the CRLA before?

STRUBLE: No, I haven’t. It’s new, but I think I will continue to work on it. In retrospect, it feels like each of [my former] projects was a year long, and then it felt like, “What’s the next place?” In a way, it was too wrapped up. Having the sense of being in San Diego longer, I can think of it as a project that can continue, and the relationships that I’ve developed can continue, as well.

See Eva's artwork on display in Eva Struble: Produce through June 22, 2014 at our Downtown location.